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This chapter talks about various topics relevant to adapting the behavior of Emacs in minor ways. See The Emacs Lisp Reference Manual for how to make more far-reaching changes.
Customization that you do within Emacs normally affects only the particular Emacs session that you do it in--it does not persist between sessions unless you save the customization in a file such as `.emacs' or `.Xdefaults' that will affect future sessions. See section AD.7 The Init File, `~/.emacs'. In the customization buffer, when you save customizations for future sessions, this actually works by editing `.emacs' for you.
AD.1 Minor Modes Each minor mode is one feature you can turn on independently of any others. AD.2 Variables Many Emacs commands examine Emacs variables to decide what to do; by setting variables, you can control their functioning. AD.3 Keyboard Macros A keyboard macro records a sequence of keystrokes to be replayed with a single command. AD.4 Customizing Key Bindings The keymaps say what command each key runs. By changing them, you can "redefine keys". AD.5 Keyboard Translations If your keyboard passes an undesired code for a key, you can tell Emacs to substitute another code. AD.6 The Syntax Table The syntax table controls how words and expressions are parsed. AD.7 The Init File, `~/.emacs' How to write common customizations in the